Sea of Galilee Boat, Ginosar
The Sea of Galilee boat is an extraordinary archaeological discovery made close to the shores of Magdala. As a result of the low water level, a 2,000 years old wooden vessel was exposed.
Displayed at Kibbutz Ginosar, the boat attracts many Christian pilgrims, as it highly relates to Jesus’, his Disciples, and the Sea of Galilee.
The Discovery of the Sea of Galilee Boat
In 1986 the waters of the Sea of Galilee were at their lowest point, after a severe drought. Two members of Kibbutz Ginosar, a communal farm north of ancient Magdala, scouted the exposed shoreline and. Among others, they noticed an oval spot, shaped like a boat. An archaeological expedition that was called to the spot. They dug a probe that proved it was indeed an ancient wooden vessel, whose size fits a function of fishing. Slowly and carefully, the archaeologists revealed the fragile remains of the whole boat and moved it for safety and conservation.
Dating and Conserving the Boat
A cooking pot found outside the prow, an oil lamp, and a few coins, were all dated to the first century. Later, Carbon 14 tests of the wood verified that this was indeed the age of the vessel. Dating a fishing vessel from the Sea of Galilee to the time of Jesus became headlines all around the world. A decision was made to conserve and present the boat to the public near its finding spot. For nine years the boat was soaked in a saline which replaced the water with synthetic wax. Completing the process, the boat was placed for permanent display in a museum at Kibbutz Ginosar.
A study of the wood proved that several different types of wood were used in the construction and maintenance of the boat. It was manufactured with beams of Cedar from Lebanon, but later repaired with trees common in the Galilee. It seems that the boat had been repaired many times before being left to rot in the mud along the western shore of the Sea of Galilee. Some parts were deliberately removed, probably to be reused. Abandoning an old boat is common, also today, but the fact that the boat did not disband is truly amazing. Yet the reason it fascinates the Christian world is the possibility that it may have been used by Jesus and/or his Disciples.
Was the Sea of Galilee Boat Used by Jesus or His Disciples?
Both Carbon 14 tests, and artifacts found nearby, prove that the fishing boat was in use in the time of Jesus. Found near Ginosar, some of suggested to link it the famous even of Jesus calming the Sea of Galilee, as at the end they anchored at “Gennesareth” (Mark 6:48-50).
Perhaps the storm damaged this old boat, and so it was deserted at the shore? There is no way of proving it, but this possibility is mind boggling.
Touring the Sea of Galilee Boat
The boat is on permanent display at Yigal Alon Museum, in Kibbutz Ginosar. A 10 minutes video presents the discovery, and many plaques around the boat provide further explanations. The museum also runs an exhibition on the history of the Kibbutz, and the Zionist settlement and development around the Sea of Galilee. It also operates a big and popular souvenir shop and Christian-themed sails on the Sea of Galilee.
A visit to the Sea of Galilee Boat can be combined with a guided day tour of the Galilee.